When locals in Jacksonville, Florida, near the corner of Cahoon Road and West Beaver Street heard a huge crash Friday evening, many of them rushed out to investigate.
The scene they were met with was a disturbing one: Four cars were involved in an accident that ended with a semi-truck carrying sand barrelling into the local Ace Hardware store after colliding with a car, pushing it into the building as well.
Nick McDonald, who lives nearby and ran outside as soon as he heard the accident, had one thought: He had to help.
“There wasn’t much going through my head,” McDonald told WTLV-TV. “I was like, ‘I need to get in here, I need to make sure these people are okay.'”
As he approached the scene and entered the building, he quickly discovered one of the victims in dire straits.
“He started yelling for help,” McDonald recalled. “And I could barely hear him and I moved a bunch of debris and I found him. I could only see his head so I started clearing debris out, and I literally held his head up, I put a shirt behind his head and I was just like, ‘We need paramedics here fast.'”
A total of five people were injured. Keith and Dennis Bennett, the co-owners of the store and well-known locals, were both injured, as well as two children and another unidentified person.
The scene was chaotic, and when paramedics arrived, McDonald directed them to the victims.
“I’m telling you, all the paramedics lined up and got debris out the way, and just made a walkway for them to get the guys out of there,” McDonald said.
Locals posted about the incident on community Facebook groups. Donna Baker posted to the “So you Grew up in Marietta Florida” Facebook group to alert others.
“Prayers needed!” she wrote. “A semi truck has run into Bennett’s Ace Hardware, here in Marietta. The building is resting on top of the truck and is a total loss. Two of the Bennett family have been taken to Shands Hospital.
“Two children have also been taken to Baptist. Most of you know Keith Bennett from T.J. I don’t know who was injured. Please keep these people in your prayers. They are very special people and much loved in our neighborhood.”
Others who know the Bennetts chimed in to say how hard this accident has hit the community.
“Man, I’m, I’m devastated,” local Richard Dooley told WJXT-TV. “I shop there all the time. I, I have breakfast with one of the owners every, every Saturday.”
“The Bennetts have always been around they’ve always been just, such the most hospitable type people,” family friend Billy Rutland said.
“You know it’s going to be some trying times for the families, but they got a lot, lot of love and support from the community because they have been a staple here for so many years.”
An acquaintance of the semi-truck driver said that the driver is in the hospital but is expected to recover.
There have been no official updates on the condition of the injured victims, though people have been posting updates on the Facebook group page, some saying the driver of the car has since passed away.
According to one post, Dennis Bennett suffered broken ribs and cracked vertebrae, but is stable. Keith Bennett suffered broken hips, a broken jaw and internal bleeding, and has had surgery and faces several more.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash.
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